Yama Deepam – Worshipping the God of Death
In Hinduism, YamaYama
Also known as Yamaraja, Yama is the controller of the hell (Naraka)... is regarded as the god of death. It is believed that when a person dies, the body is left behind and the soul goes on to meet Yama. Then Yama decides where the soul of a person rightfully deserves to be sent to –heaven, hell or earth – depending on the deeds of that person.
The festival of Yama Deepam is celebrated to offer prayers to Yama and worship him for his blessings. Yama Deepam is also known as Dhanteras in some parts of the country. According to the Hindu calendar, it is celebrated on the thirteenth lunar day of the waning moon phase of Kartik month, (October-November), according to the Hindu calendar.
Once upon a time, there was a king named Hima. It was foretold that his son would die on fourth day of his marriage due to a snake bite, and there was nothing that he could do about it. Eventually, his son got married when he was just sixteen years old. His wife came to know about the aforementioned prediction and decided not to lose her husband and protect him at all costs. She later came up with a plan. On the fourth day of their marriage, she lighted up numerous lamps made of clay, and placed them all over the palace. She gathered all her gold, treasures, and jewelries and made a heap of them. She placed the heap in front of the room where she and her husband used to sleep, thus, blocking the entrance to the room. Later that night, she started narrating stories and singing songs to her husband so as to prevent him from falling asleep. Afterwards, Yama came to the palace disguised as a serpent. But when he entered the palace, he was blinded by the dazzling lights of the diyas and the ornaments. This hindered him in entering the room where the prince and his wife were present. With difficulty, Yama was able to climb to the top of the heap. Meanwhile, the wife was singing melodious songs for her husband and when Yama reached there, he could not do anything but listen to her melodies all night. At dawn, Yama returned to his home and, thus, the prince’s life was saved because of his wife’s intelligence and presence of mind.
The most common ritual is the offering of diyas to Yama. In this, people light up thirteen lamps generally using oil and place them outside their house in the evening. Also, a big lamp is kept inside the house and is kept burning all night. The lamps are always supposed to be kept facing the south.
The offerings and prayers are believed to protect the family members and loved ones of the devotees form any kind of untimely or accidental death. Yama always blesses those who worship him and celebrate Yama Deepam with devotion and purity.